Lining up for the camera at Sueston station are five of the prototype diesels that were constructed during the 1950s and 1960s.
While a lot of the BR diesel classes were ordered direct from the drawing board, there were some that were built as prototypes and the locomotives we see above were but five of these.
From left to right we have:
Diesel Prototype (DP) 1 Deltic.
This loco was built by English Electric in 1955. She was fitted with two Napier 18.25 engines developing 3,300 bhp, with a top speed of 90 mph. The loco was originally allocated the running number DP1 and given the name Enterprise, however, when she emerged from works in 1955, the name Deltic was applied. She was initially allocated to Edge Hill Shed in Liverpool from where she hauled various express passenger services. At the beginning of 1959 the loco was transferred to Hornsey Shed and, in June of that year, she crossed the border via the Waverley Route where five days of trials were carried out. From the middle of June she commenced restricted duties between King's Cross and Leeds and Doncaster. The end came for the locomotive after a serious failure occurred at Doncaster in March 1961 after which she was returned to the English Electric Works at Newton-le-Willows for assessment. However, after some 12 months, it was decided not to repair her but to, instead, present her to the Science Museum in London.
The model we see here was made by Bachmann in 2007 for the National Railway Museum. She was only acquired at the weekend and, therefore, has not been detailed and has not yet been fitted with a sound decoder. She will then be put to use hauling express passenger services.
Diesel Prototype 2
DP2 was also built by English Electric in 1962, this loco had an EE16CSVT diesel engine fitted, developing 2,700 bhp and a maximum speed of 90 mph. These engines were subsequently fitted to the Class 50 fleet of locomotives. DP2 was, probably, the most successful prototype diesel ever built and she clocked up an extremely high mileage with something in excess of 151,000 miles being gained in less than 12 months. Euston to Carlisle expresses were her main duties but she would also be seen in charge of Euston to Blackpool services. In June 1962 DP2 was transferred to Finsbury Park Shed where she was slotted into the Deltic diagrams. In May 1965 she was recalled for a classified repair by which time her mileage had reached the 365,000 mark! Between 1965 and 1967 DP2 was put in charge of services between London, Leeds and Edinburgh as well as on the Cambridge line and on services to York and Newcastle. DP2's sad demise came on 31 July 1967 when she collided with derailed cement wagons near Thirsk. She was removed to York Shed at first and, then, to its maker's works where it was decided not to effect repairs and she was duly broken up during 1968.
The model above is by Heljan with a Howes sound decoder fitted. She has also been lightly weathered and is used predominantly on express passenger duties.
Kestrel was built by Brush in 1968 and was fitted with a Sulzer 16LVA24 engine, developing 4000 bhp, giving her a top speed of 125 mph. Unfortunately Kestrel was never used to her full potential by BR because, at 133 tons, she was far in excess of the existing axel limitations. She was primarily used to haul 1600 ton coal trains between Shirebrook and March (Whitemoor Yard) and, during August 1968, a special test train of 2,028 tons was formed by 32 ton open hopper wagons in order to put Kestrel through her paces. She hauled this train between Mansfield and Lincoln and it was announced at the time as being the heaviest train ever to operate on BR. She is also reported to have hauled 20 standard Mk1 coaches, weighing in excess of 665 tons, up Shap Bank, topping the summit at a staggering 46 mph! From October 1969 she took up the Deltic diagram of the 07:55 King's Cross to Newcastle and 16:45 return service. Passenger train running was superb, with an 89% availability and virtually 100% timekeeping being recorded. From JUne 1970 Kestrel was employed on hauling one of the heaviest freightliner trains between London and the north before being returned, following an engine overhaul, to her Shirebrook to Whitemoor Yard coal train duties. In 1971 Kestrel was sold to Russia whereupon very little was seen or heard of her. However, it is believed that, by the early 1980s, the loco had been scrapped.
Our model is, of course, by Heljan and she has been duly weathered to reflect her, mainly coal train duties. She has also been fitted with a Howes sound decoder.
D0280 (D1200) Falcon
Falcon was another prototype locomotive built by Brush and she was introduced in 1961. She was fitted with two MD655 engines, developing 2,800 bhp, with a top speed of 100 mph. She was initially put to use on the Midland and Eastern regions before being transferred to the Western Region where, on one of her first road trials, she hauled a trailing load of 628 tons up the Lickey incline, unassisted and from a standing start. This was indeed no mean feat! In April 1962 Falcon was allocated to Sheffield Darnall Shed from where she often operated the Sheffield Pullman. At the end of 1963 the loco was returned to the Brush Works where it stayed until early 1965. When she finally emerged, in standard BR two-tone green livery, she was allocated to the Western Region again where she would remain for the rest of her serviceable life. She was eventually purchased by BR in 1971 at which point she became the only member of Class 53, was painted in BR standard blue livery and was fitted with train air brakes only. She was also given the running number D1200. From this moment onwards the loco was used exclusively on freight traffic and, between 1973 and 1975, she saw less and less work until she was finally withdrawn in October 1975 and broken up five months later.
Our model is by Heljan and depicts her in her BR days. She has, therefore, been weathered to suit her mostly freight traffic duties and has also been fitted with a Howes sound decoder.
Lion was built in 1962 by a consortium of three major traction companies: The Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company (BRCW), Sulzer Brothers and Associated Electrical Industries (AEI). It could be argued that she was one of the most handsome diesel locomotives ever built, with her gold-lined white livery, however impractical this might be for a diesel locomotive. She was fitted with a 12LDA28A engine developing 2,750 bhp and giving her a top speed of 100 mph. She was initially allocated to Swindon and operated trains between Paddington and Cheltenham. In 1963 she was allocated to Finsbury Park from where she spent much of her time on local trains with the occasional duty on the Master Cutler and Yorkshire Pullman. Lion suffered several major mechanical problems at a time when the BRCW company was falling into deep financial trouble. She was, therefore, taken to the BR workshops at Doncaster for evaluation in 1963 but, following only a short stay there and after only a year in traffic, she was taken to the BRCW works at Smethwick where she was broken up and all of the major components returned to their relevant makers for possible re-use.
The model above is by Heljan and she has been lightly weathered to tone down the whiteness a little bit. She is used on occasional special passnger trains and has also been fitted with a Howes Sound decoder.